MACON, Ga. -- For only the ninth time in program history, Belmont Softball had to delve into 10-plus innings for a decision. Fueled by a pair of grand slams by junior Jess Andree (Darien, Ill.), the Bruins outlasted Mercer (14-19), 13-12.
Andree becomes the 12th player in NCAA history to record a pair of grand slams in a single game.
Mercer got on the board in the bottom of the first inning using a home run to center to take a 2-0 lead. Belmont had an excellent chance to grab the lead in the top of the third inning. A walk for sophomore Jordan Spicer (Hendersonville, Tenn.) was followed by back-to-back singles by classmate Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.) and senior Kayla Wells (Bonney Lake, Wash.) to load the bases. However, the Bears were able to put the squeeze on BU and keep it off the board for another half inning.
A stringent defensive effort continued to keep MU from scoring additional runs. The Bruins had another bases loaded situation in the top of the fourth but this time was able to produce a run out of the opportunity.
Belmont made its move in the top of the fifth inning. After a single by Wells and a double to right by junior Lexi Rouse (Macon, Ga.) before classmate Chelsey Deloney (Gardendale, Ala.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Just two pitches in, junior Jess Andree (Darien, Ill.) unleashed a grand slam, Belmont's second of the tournament, to put Belmont on top, 5-2. Mercer fired back in the bottom of the sixth frame, using a three-run home run to knot the score, 5-5. The Bruin defense then beat back the threatening Bears with two strong plays, including a run down by Andree and Deloney of a Mercer player making an attempt to steal home.
The teams headed into the seventh frame locked in a 5-5 stalemate but neither was able to plate a run in their respective half innings. In the eighth inning, Belmont was able to push runners over the plate first with the help of the international tiebreaker rule. Cook was placed on second and was quickly moved to third with a bunt by Wells. Sophomore Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas) used a sac bunt to put two runners in scoring position before a Rouse ground out scored the first run. Deloney knocked a double to left to add the second run that put Belmont on top, 7-5.
However, Mercer matched the effort and knotted the score once again, sending the game to a ninth inning. Belmont used back-to-back bunts and a sacrifice fly to post a run in its half of the frame but the Bears continued to keep pace, knotting the score again, this time, 8-8, at the conclusion of the ninth inning.
In the top of the 10th, BU was able to move quickly to score a run. With Cook on second from the tiebreaker, a Wells sacrifice bunt moved her to third before a single up the middle by Baker sent her over the plate. The Bruins were able to load the bases with a Rouse single and with Deloney being hit by a pitch. On the first pitch tossed her way, Andree smashed her second grand slam of the contest to put Belmont on top, 13-8.
Mercer would not go down without a fight, though. In its half of the frame, the Bears used a two run homer to cut the BU lead to three runs, 13-10. Aided by a pitching change, Belmont's defense went to work. Even with two more runs scored thanks to a double deep to right center, Mercer could not muster up enough runs to topple the Bruins. A ground out and a pop up sealed their fate as BU went on to win, 13-12.
On her record breaking day, Andree went 3-for-6 at the plate with a whopping six RBI. Freshman Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) went 3-for-5 while Wells finished at 3-for-4.
Inside the circle, sophomore Ashley Johnson (Kingwood, Texas), Rouse and Lee all split time. The trio combined for five strikeouts.
Belmont returns to action on Tuesday, March 21 at E.S. Rose Park. The Bruins host in-state rival Memphis for a single game beginning at 4 p.m. Live stats will be available.